Longtime Google search SVP Amit Singhal, who is largely responsible for fine-tuning Google’s search engine, is retiring on February 26. Singhal will be succeeded by John Giannandrea, who leads the company’s artificial intelligence research. Giannandrea’s new title will be VP of engineering, according to Bloomberg.
Singhal joined Google in its nascence—back in 2000–just two years after the company came into being. Since then, he has been responsible for tweaking and improving the search engine’s ranking algorithm, which Google relies on to surface the most relevant links for a given query. In 2001, Singhal was awarded the title of “Google Fellow” for his work on the search engine.
Having Giannandrea assume Singhal’s duties aligns with Google’s emphasis on using machine learning and artificial intelligence to enhance its search capabilities. Last year, the company unveiled RankBrain, which uses deep learning technology to deliver the best search results for queries that Google’s search engine has not previously encountered.
In a Google+ post, Singhal wrote that he felt confident leaving the search unit in “the hands of an outstanding set of senior leaders.” From his post:
Now is a good time to make this important life change. Things are in amazing shape. Search is stronger than ever, and will only get better in the hands of an outstanding set of senior leaders who are already running the show day-to-day.
It fills me with pride to see what we have built in the last 15 years. Search has transformed people’s lives; over a billion people rely on us. Our mission of empowering people with information and the impact it has had on this world cannot be overstated. When I started, who would have imagined that in a short period of 15 years, we would tap a button, ask Google anything and get the answer. Today, it has become second nature to us. My dream Star Trek computer is becoming a reality, and it is far better than what I ever imagined.
As to why he is leaving the company, Singhal explained that he wants to shift his focus to philanthropic projects. Much like the execs who recently left Twitter, Singhal also expressed a desire to spend more time with his family.
“As I entered the fifteenth year of working at Google, I’ve been asking myself the question, “what would you want to do for the next 15?” The answer has overwhelmingly been: Give back to others,” Singhal wrote in the post. “It has always been a priority for me to give back to people who are less fortunate, and make time for my family amidst competing work constraints–but on both fronts, I simply want to give and do more.”